According to USPTO documents, the trademark Apple has been granted includes “a clear glass storefront surrounded by a paneled facade consisting of large, rectangular horizontal panels over the top of the glass front, and two narrower panels stacked on either side of the storefront” as well as a “oblong table with stools…set below video screens flush mounted on the back wall.”
USPTO documents show that the trademark does not pertain to features such as colour, walls, floors, or lighting, however, the trademark claims rights to but “the placement of the various items are considered to be part of the overall mark.”
Apple has had problems previously with imitation stores, particularly in China: in 2011 , authorities in the Chinese city of Kunming shutdown 22 fake Apple stores that were near doppelgangers of the real thing.
Apple had originally applied for a trademark on the interiors of the its stores in 2010, but it look until January 22 2013 for the trademark to be approved.
Initially, the patent agency rejected Apple’s request to trademark its store’s interior design because the trademark wasn’t “inherently distinctive.”
IfoAppleStore, an outlet of the Apple fanboy press specializing in covering trends in everything Apple retail, says that Microsoft had applied to the USPTO to delay the granting of the trademark so that it could develop its own unique chain of retail stores.
Considering that the spirit of the trade of architecture is based on architectures being influenced by each other’s work, the granting of this trademark — which circumvents most “prior art” clauses sets a dangerous precedent.
For example, several well known designs have been influenced by the works of greats like Gehry, Foster, Wright and others.
If architects will now be able to trademark or patent their design – imagine if Gehry had exclusivity over organically-shaped facades a world of bland, banal designs awaits.